Veteran Status for Some Civilians Who Served in Vietnam

| January 23, 2020

Some civilians, who were assigned to Vietnam from January 9, 1962, through May 7, 1975, were granted “veteran status”. These are civilians who served as civilian special agents working for the Department of the Navy.

These civilians will fall under the category of “serving on active duty”. This allows the Department of Veterans Affairs to administer benefits for these civilians due to this new veteran status. This determination; however, does not open back pay for them.


That means that they and their family members may be eligible for health, disability and burial benefits, just like military members who served during that time period. They won’t, however, be eligible for any retroactive benefits. They may also be eligible for state veteran benefits.

If the veteran is deceased, a surviving family member may still file the application for veteran status.

To receive benefits, these veterans must first get a DD-214 to use when applying to state or federal agencies. To get a DD-214, an affected person must submit a DD-2168, Application for Discharge of Member or Survivor of Member of Group Certified to Have Performed Active Duty with the Armed Forces of the United States.

The form must be submitted to the Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tennessee, with all supporting documentation.

It is on the qualified civilian veteran’s part, as well as that of their family members, to prove that the qualified civilian is a veteran under this ruling. The article provides examples of proof that needs to be provided in order to receive a DD-214 for benefits purposes under the VA.

You can read more here.

Category: Veterans Issues

Comments (43)

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  1. Buckeye Jim says:

    I am kind of torn on this. Many of these people did a lot of brave stuff. On the other hand, they were paid considerably more than the average vet and one of the reasons for the higher (much higher, in some cases) pay was the lack of military benefits.

    • Commissar says:

      I have no idea what these guys were up to but I suspect being civilians allowed them to operate in civilian clothes without violating the Geneva convention.

      I think they are definitely “veterans” of the war. Despite not being legally military service members at the time.

      • timactual says:

        According to those Geneva conventions engaging in hostilities while not being in uniform is a war crime. Also, the enemy is fully justified in executing those who commit acts of war against them while in civilian clothes.

        • SFC D says:

          You’d think an intel officer would know that.

          • The Other Whitey says:

            Lars might wanna check his hat. The tin foil is showing.

            • ninja says:

              Commissar and all:

              The group mentioned in this post were Special Agents who served under the Office Navy Intelligence or Naval Investigative Services as Civilians during the Vietnam Conflict.

          • 5th/77th FA says:

            ‘D, there’s a whole world of difference between an intel ossifer and an Intelligent Officer.

            On topic, separate paragraph. Buddy of mine was a wing wiping loadmaster ordnance guy. He DEROSed then ETSed from the Sandbox back to the World. Took a 2 month vacay then went back to the sandbox as a contractor doing pretty much exactly the same job. At way, way, way yonder more USD. For tax purposes they were paid in cash USD. Those boys made so much that every coupla 3 months when they went home for some R&R they flew back on Swiss Air with a layover/plane change in Zurich. Would have their limit of carry on bags with cash to deposit in their Swiss Bank Accounts. Since they never left the airport there was no customs to go thru/declare and the bank kiosk was right there at the gate. “Agent K” made a damn bloody fortune and pulls out just enough each year where the tax bite don’t hurt. Unless he really wants to the boy won’t have to work a time clock job for the rest of his life. He just turned 45. I doubt that the folks that were doing it back in our Viet of the Nam Times did as well as they do now.

            • ninja says:


              Thank You for sharing.

              I met some of those US Contractors (logistics in nature) while in the Sandbox during the early stages of OEF and OIF (2001-2003).

              What was interesting that in some cases, money was a major factor as to why they were there. Others shared that they wanted to be part of ” something” since they served 20 years on Active Duty not being involved in a major Conflict (no fault of theirs missing out on DS, Panama, Grenada, etc.etc).

              What was so sad was a couple of them never made it back (due to IEDs, RPGs, etc, etc).

              We all bleed Red.

          • Skippy says:

            Brainwashed by the DNC

        • xyzzy says:

          Right. Remember that ARVN officer that shot that captured Viet Cong terrorist in the head? There’s a fairly infamous photo of him pulling the trigger. There’s a reason why he wasn’t prosecuted. That execution was 💯 legal and moral.

  2. 5th/77th FA says:

    Looks like we may start seeing a whole new class of phony soon. “Yeah I was there as a civilian doing super secret squirrel stuff that I can’t talk about. Took a special act of Congress and the DoD to get my classification. Waiting on my DD214 to show up any day now.”

    I lean with Buckeye Jim here. They had a chance to be a Military Vet of the Viet of the Nam Times. All a body had to do was sign on the dotted line and take an oath. And, yeah, they were way yonder more compensated for being there and prolly had more leeway as to when they could leave. Even ossifers didn’t make a whole lot of $ then. E4 mafia trigger and lanyard pullers made even less.

  3. OWB says:

    Yeah, well. Maybe. Or not so much. If you want to call them veterans, I have no issue with that. If you want to call them Veterans, then I will argue the point. Anyone who did not serve in the military simply cannot be a military vet. Really – it is just that simple.

    That said, I have a very good friend who never served in the military but did make multiple trips into Viet of the Nam as a Merchant Marine. He took and returned fire. At some point going in, the crew was issued arms. Since he had that experience, I consider him a “combat vet,” as loosely defined as one who has taken and returned enemy fire in a combat zone, even though he is not legally entitled to that title.

    A complicated subject, which really isn’t all that complicated.

    • xyzzy says:

      You can be named an Honorary Veteran by Congress, tho.

      Just ask Bob Hope and Zachary Fisher.

      • timactual says:

        Hell, Bob Hope and his gang had more time-in-country than Kerry and his ilk. More flight hours, too. Not to mention the other two wars he was in.

  4. Skippy says:

    Major issue with this
    They were paid more then the service members who served
    Why exactly are we calling them veterans and giving them benefits
    That go with that designation???
    This dumbs down and takes away from those
    Who’s blood and sweat was put in to this conflict
    at low military pay and then putting up with the lack of care
    Because our government was in denial over Agent Orange
    And all the other shit we were spraying over there

  5. 26Limabeans says:

    We had some “tech reps” with us at a remote Signal Site. They billeted off site though and
    were handsomely paid. Wore civies and personal
    I do not consider them military veterans but I am
    thankful for their employment choice and wish them well.

  6. Claw says:

    I guess that I would have to have an explanation of what a “Department of the Navy civilian special agent” did in Vietnam before commenting on the subject.

    Are they talking like NCIS personnel? Or overnight shelf stockers at the Navy BX in Danang?/s

    • SFC D says:

      Concur wholeheartedly, Claw. Are we also going to give veteran status to every contractor who ever served in any war anywhere? I worked with some awesome contractors in my career, but as Buckeye Jim stated, the were paid very handsomely. Any benefits post-war should come from their employer.

  7. Sparks says:

    5th/77th FA made a great point and it struck me as I read the article. Believe me, there are already phony to be head gears turning as we write. This will help some who are perhaps deserving but, it opens the door to myriad new phony claims, angles, and scams. As many phony vets as we have, now we may have an unlimited supply of civilian posers. I can’t wait for one to use a 1972 or earlier version DD-214 as proof of their civilian service. I am also curious about their FOIA requests. They have to submit a DD-2168 in order to obtain a new, original DD-214 and I can already hear, “they lost my records”, “they burned in the ’73 fire”, etc. Or the ones who do the proper processing and then bugger up the DD-214 to get a high speed, low drag profile. When in truth, they never left Saigon, did teletype maintenance for ITT, Western Union or some other company. Then all of a sudden, they go from fucking up teletype machines to justify ordering new ones (company profits have to come from somewhere and there are millions of teats on this cow) to the green-faced man with no name who led “secret infiltration mission”, after “can’t be taken alive most likely suicide mission”, to just name it and we’ll see it. It boggles my mind.

    This is gonna give the phony vets a stroke to see how much more competition they have for handouts, glory, and praise.

    Just my humble opinion. YMMV

  8. ninja says:

    The Rest of the Story:

    For years, various groups, both Foreign and US, affiliated and involved with different conflicts (WWII in the Philippines, Korean Conflict, Yugoslavia, Vietnam, etc. etc.) applied to the Department of Defense to be considered “active duty” under the provisions of Public Law 95-202 for the purposes of all laws administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    It’s called “Active Duty Service Determination for Civilian or Contractual Groups”.

    The majority of them were turned down.

    In this case, highlighted here, the Group was approved:

    “On 15 August 2019, the Secretary of the Air Force, acting as Executive Agent of the Secretary of Defense, determined that the service of the group known as: “Department of the Navy Civilian Special Agents who Served in Direct Support and Under Control of the DON, within the Republic of Vietnam, During the Period January 9, 1962 through May 7, 1975 (Vietnam War)” be considered “active duty” under the provisions of Public Law 95-202 for the purposes of all laws administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

    That Civilian group were Special Agents under the Office Navy Intelligence or Naval Investigative Services:

    “To be eligible for Department of Veteran Affairs, benefits, persons who believe they were part of this group recognized by the Secretary must establish each of the following:

    “1. They were employed by the Department of the Navy as Civilian Special Agents assigned to the Office of Naval Intelligence or Naval Investigative Service

    “2. During their service as Civilian Special Agents assigned to ONI/NIS, served within the Republic of Vietnam, in their capacity as Civilian Special Agents, during the period January 9, 1962 through May 7, 1975.”

    One individual wrote a book a book about those Civilian Agents who worked for Office of Naval Intelligence and worked in Vietnam:

    You can read about this group’s structure and mission during Vietnam on this site:

    • SFC D says:

      My suspicious, cynical brain translates “Civilian Special Agents assigned to the Office of Naval Intelligence or Naval Investigative Service” into “deniable CIA asset”.

    • thebesig says:

      Here’s one detailing Filipinos who were not on active duty with the US military. Many served in a militia capacity (Guerilla) during World War II.

      At the time, the Philippines was US territory. Many served in the regular military (U.S.)

      The Commonwealth army, regular scouts, insular forces, special scouts, etc., were equivalent to the “provincial militia” during the colonial period. The “Guerillas” were similar to the private militias during the US colonial period.

    • timactual says:

      So, how about USAID, the Red Cross, USO, various missionary groups, etc? According to the link fifty-nine(59) American civilian women were killed in Vitnam. I doubt any of them worked for ONI/NIS. I couldn’t find out how many civilian men died. Show me the ONI/NIS casualty list.

  9. ninja says:

    In 1993, the Secretary of The Air Force (the Executive Agent for the Secretary of Defense in determining if certain Civilian or Contractual Groups are considered “active duty” for some Veteran Affairs Benefits) approved ‘active duty’ status for these two Groups who participated during WWII:

    (1) Civilian Flight Crew and Aviation Ground Support Employees of Northwest Airlines, Who Served Overseas as a Result of Northwest Airline’s Contract with the Air Transport Command during the Period December 14, 1941 through August 14, 1945

    (2) U.S. Civilian Female Employees of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps While Serving in the Defense of Bataan and Corregidor during the Period January 2, 1942 to February 3, 1945.

  10. ninja says:

    I’m hijacking your post, thebesig.

    I’m truly sorry…please forgive me…I just could not resist….

    What do you get when Adam Schiff and AOC cross-pollinate?

    This! (Check Out The Picture):


    • 5th/77th FA says:

      ninja, ninja, ninja. Why come you post that? You know that Imma gonna click bait on everything you post. What a mean thing to do. Shore be am glad that Supply Daddy Claw done sent me a 55 gallon drum of eye bleach.

      • ninja says:


        As always, with your prized writing skills, you have me 😆😅🤣😂!!!

        Last (before thebesig and AW1Ed put me in a corner for time out) Ole Ralphie “KKK” Boy has already set in motion to get rid of the Virginia Holiday, Lee-Jackson Day and replace it with “Election Day”.

        What a Doofus. How ironic coming from an individual whose Direct Blood Relatives owned Slaves and who dressed as a KKK in his Yearbook.

        Yep. That’s my Handle for him. KKK Boy.


        • 5th/77th FA says:

          We could do a whole another post on KKK Boy, his Toady LT Guv, and their minions. We have other ninjas watching that thing…real…real…real close.

  11. OWB says:

    Hmmm. Thought of another case which might have been germane to this conversation, although it was during WWII. A relative was not allowed to enlist because he was deemed more valuable as a civilian employee of the War Department, attached to the Navy. He did all sorts of interesting stuff and was taken all over the world to do engineering stuff to Navy vessels, not always from nice, safe locations. No idea what his pay might have been or what bennies he got. Or what expectation there was should he be injured doing his job. He was still on the federal payroll a few years after the war when he died of a heart attack. High stress??

  12. Claw says:

    Hmmm, after reading through all the attached materials, my determination is that this ruling may effect up to literally tens of people who are now in their mid to late 70s/early 80s for whom Medicare is just not enough to fill their medical needs.

    BLUF, no ex-NCIS/Intel agents from Vietnam are allowed to access the VA for health care until they bring to justice the perps who burned down Sheryl’s She-Shed./s

  13. Ret_25X says:

    As long as these are not blanket “all civilian personnel” awards, I guess I’m OK with it.

    We had an Army Civilian injured in the Khobar Tower bombing. He received a purple heart and a civvie award.

    War zones are often populated by civilians operating on behalf of the military who are performing roles we are not allowed to/not trained for. Missions such as SIGINT, LOG, and Special Agents for LE or investigative roles such as Special IG or Special Investigators for various military crimes.

    They may get paid more, but they are there with us, so it seems to me that VA health care is not too high a bar.

    I also agree that this will open up a new world of POSers for us to mock…err…I mean investigate…

    Maybe this is a win/win!

  14. Hondo says:

    Have to say I have a bit of a problem with this for one reason.

    I’m reasonably sure that civilian employees can quit and go home at any time without risking going to jail. It might cost them professionally and financially, but it’s an option.

    Last time I checked, people in uniform don’t have that option.

  15. Martinjmpr says:

    Wait, so were these people private contractors or civilian federal employees?

    The reason I ask is that civilian federal employees (i.e. civil service employees) are already eligible for medical benefits if they were injured or exposed to disease (agent orange, etc) during their time overseas under Federal Workers Compensation Law (5 U.S.C. section 8100.)

    Now, if they were CONTRACTORS, i.e. employees of a private company that held a contract with the government, then I could see the issue because it’s likely that the “company” they work for is no longer in existence and had little or no workers comp insurance at the time.

    I do know that there are many, many civilian contractors who work closely with military units, particularly those that use sophisticated electronic or communications equipment (and any more, that’s just about everybody.)